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SEG-Y Update
This article appeared in Vol. 14, No. 3 - 2017


Anyone that has worked with seismic data in the last 40 or so years will be familiar with the SEG-Y seismic data exchange standard. SEG-Y is one of several standards developed by the The Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) for storing geophysical data. Originally developed to store single-line seismic reflection digital data on magnetic tape and first published in 1975, there has only been one major update, SEG-Y revision 1, which came out in 2002. Now SEG has announced the release of a major update to the venerable seismic workhorse.

The result of more than two years of development and feedback from a large community of users, SEG-Y Revision 2.0 provides high flexibility while maintaining a high degree of backward compatibility. It may be downloaded from the SEG Technical Standards web page ( 

Notable new features include:

  • Up to 65,535 additional 240-byte trace headers; 
  • The ability to unambiguously map trace-header contents; 
  • Capacity for traces to have up to 232–1 samples and 264–1 traces per line and ensemble; 
  • Sample intervals can be arbitrarily large or small; 
  • Support for little-endian and pair-wise byte swapping; 
  • Microsecond time-stamp accuracy; 
  • Higher-precision coordinates, depths and elevation; 
  • Depth, velocity, electromagnetic, gravity and rotational sensor data types; 
  • Optional XML-based Extended Textual File Headers


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